James Fulton will return to sit alongside former driver Josh McErlean on next weekend’s Rally Liepāja in the European Rally Championship.
Fulton first worked with Hyundai Customer Racing junior McErlean halfway through the 2021 season when McErlean’s co-driver Keaton Williams linked up with Takamoto Katsuta at Toyota following Daniel Barritt’s injury.
The pair contested 13 rallies together, culminating in Fulton winning the WRC2 Junior title for co-drivers’ before moving on to partner Craig Breen in the main World Rally Championship.
John Rowan has since become McErlean’s co-driver, but Fulton will step in with Rowan contesting the Donegal International Rally in Ireland on the same weekend as Latvia.
“James wants to get back in a rally car and wants to get back to the top,” McErlean told DirtFish.
“For Latvia we knew we needed a co-driver with John committed elsewhere and he was the man at the top of the list of those to ring. It was a no-brainer to try and get him in the car and from his side it was a yes straight away.
“I would say it’s quite fitting to get back together. We’re on a good roll at the minute and we’d like to push forward in Latvia, so let’s try and make it happen.”
McErlean has strong ERC form, having fought for the podium on last month’s Rally Poland before falling to seventh due to a spin.
The decision to do Liepāja makes sense, both for this year’s WRC and next.
“Given it’s in the WRC next year it’s one of the ones most would like to do,” McErlean explained, “but ultimately it’s good practice for the fast WRC rallies [Estonia and Finland] in the summer to try and get the speed up.”
It will be both McErlean’s first attempt at the event, but Fulton has done it twice before alongside another Irish driver Callum Devine.
Although McErlean and Fulton are good friends, the event will be a one-off outing as Rowan will return for McErlean’s next events and Fulton is committed to a campaign in the Portuguese championship alongside Kris Meeke.
But McErlean is sure he can learn lots from Fulton who has competed for both M-Sport and Hyundai in Rally1 machinery since they last worked together.
“He’s been at the top level now for a few rallies in a Rally1 and he’s a professional guy,” McErlean said.
“He comes back to us for this one round and hopefully we can benefit from that, because working with someone who’s been in these teams at that level is a huge advantage for us.”